A natural plant extract originating from the bark of the maritime pine that grows along the coast of southwest France may be effective in reducing osteoarthritis, say researchers.
The plant extract Pycnogenol (pic-noj-en-all) works by reducing the levels of an inflammatory marker called C-reactive protein (CRP), according to multiple studies conducted by scientists at Italy's Chieti-Pescara University and Germany's University of Munster.
For their study, the researchers investigated a subset of 55 patients from a previous osteoarthritis study, with 156 patients who had significantly elevated CRP levels. Treatment consisted of two tablets daily of either 50 mg Pycnogenol or placebo.
The researchers drew blood specimens at baseline of the initial study, and again after three-month treatment.
They observed that Pycnogenol significantly lowered CRP from average 3.9 mg/L at baseline to 1.1 mg/L, reflecting essentially healthy levels. On the other hand, they saw a marginal lowered CRP level in the placebo group.
The team said that other blood parameters indicative of acute inflammation likewise decreased with Pycnogenol, such as fibrinogen (lowered 37.1 %) and reactive oxygen species (lowered by 29.9 %).
"The decrease of systemic inflammatory markers, particularly CRP, suggests Pycnogenol(r) properties may be potent enough to arrest the spread of inflammation from osteoarthritic joints to the whole organisms" said Dr. Peter Rohdewald, a lead researcher of the study.
"When inflammatory processes are allowed to reach the whole body the degenerative processes may burden overall health including increased cardiovascular risks," added the researcher.
A research article describing the study has been published in the journal Redox Report.